Written by a Middle East-based Pioneer…
Meet Shada. At 22 she has been married for five years, but has no children. She was the first person in her family to complete a high school education and learn to read and write. Her father was abusive so her mother left him before Shada was even born. So she grew up without a father and thus she bears no family surname – making her a nobody in this culture.
Shada spent her entire life in the village before she moved to the city with her husband last year, leaving everyone else she had ever known behind. I love to sit at Shada’s house and listen to her stories about life in the village – like how, after it rains, everyone goes out hunting a particular moth that they capture to fry and eat. She also tries to teach me to tie my scarf as the village girls do, but this has been a greater challenge than learning to speak her language!
No foreigner has ever visited Shada’s village, except for a couple of men who helped with the installation of electricity. She misses the village, where she spent most of her days working out in the fields or fetching water from the well. It was hard work. But here, in the city, she knows no one except her husband and she rarely has the chance to leave the four walls of her small home. She misses the fresh, cool air, walking in the mountains and eating lunch with her neighbours.
‘I love my village and I miss it,’ she says, ‘but I love my husband more.’
One evening, Shada reads passages about Jesus to me from the Qur’an. She reads about His virgin birth.
‘Why?’ I ask her, ‘Why do you think He was different from all the other prophets? Why would God cause Him to be born of a virgin?’
‘No big deal,’ she says, ‘Mohammed was an orphan. He didn’t have a mother or a father.’
A virgin birth no big deal?
Another evening, Shada visits my home. She sees a cross hanging on the wall.
‘You bow and pray to this, right?’ she asks.
‘No, no,’ I reply, ‘No. This is just a reminder. When I see this it reminds me of how much God loves me. This is God’s greatest gift to us.’
‘Oh,’ she says, ‘God’s greatest gift to us is the Qur’an.’
Pray that Shada and her husband would be increasingly impressed by the uniqueness of Jesus from truths they already believe about Him such as His virgin birth. Ask that they would be intrigued by the cross and have a growing desire to understand its gift. Ask that Shada would come to know her heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. Ask for our conversations to ever turn towards Him and that my capacity to effectively share about Him in Arabic would grow.
Also pray for a couple of practical things. Firstly, that God would provide while Shada’s husband is temporarily out of work during the civil unrest. They may be forced to return to the village if his job does not resume soon. Secondly, pray for Shada to conceive a child, in a culture where barrenness is a deep shame.
Note: For the safety of those involved, all names have been removed, changed or omitted. The image used is for illustrative purposes only.